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Defying destiny: Lead character in third season of ‘American Gods’ tries to make his own path

Ricky Whittle stars as Shadow Moon in the third season of “American Gods.” (Courtesy of Starz)

Ricky Whittle is all about the journey.

Whether it’s in his personal life or through a character he plays on TV, the 39-year-old English actor is up for the challenges that life brings.

Whittle currently stars as Shadow Moon in the Starz series “American Gods.” The third season will premiere at 8:51 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10.

“American Gods” is the epic story of an inevitable war building between the old gods of mythology and our new gods of technology.

It is based on the 2001 bestselling book by Neil Gaiman, who also serves as an executive producer.

The series premiered on Starz in April 2017 and is praised for its distinct visual style.

Whittle stars as ex-con Shadow Moon, a man pulled into the service of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, played by Ian McShane – only to discover that not only is his charismatic but untrustworthy boss actually the Norse All-Father god Odin, but he’s also Shadow Moon’s father.

In the coming season, Shadow Moon angrily pushes this apparent destiny away and settles in the idyllic snowy town of Lakeside, Wisconsin – to make his own path, guided by the gods of his black ancestors, the Orishas.

But he’ll soon discover that this town’s still waters run deep, and that you don’t get to simply reject being a god.

The only choice – and a choice you have to make – is what kind of god you’re going to be.

“Oh yeah, it gets insane,” Whittle says of the new season. “It’s fun this year. Shadow is on a road to self-discovery after finding out that Wednesday is his father.”

Whittle says that in the new season, viewers find Shadow Moon hiding in Wisconsin.

“He’s changed his name and trying to live a normal life,” Whittle says. “Wednesday has lied to him his whole life. He’s truly alone now. His mother died when he was 15 of cancer.”

Although Shadow Moon longs for a normal life, destiny is still running its course, Whittle says.

“Shadow is trying to decide what kind of God he wants to become,” he says. If Shadow had been raised by Wednesday, what would have the result been? He’s been given the light and love by his mother. There’s a conflict deep inside Shadow.”

Whittle says Shadow Moon’s human side is shown in the new season.

He says Shadow Moon wants to have a normal life and be able to hug his loved ones, which is why he moved to Lakeside, Wisconsin.

In the town, he finds Marguerite Olsen, played by Lela Loren, who begins to be a romantic interest for him.

“He’s not looking for power. He wants to be happy,” Whittle says. “Then he meets Marguerite, and she’s so powerful. I think at the very beginning, I get a Sarah Connor vibe. Marguerite is about keeping her child safe. She gets the spider tingles, and she’s tense.”

Whittle says he has been impressed by the writing for the third season.

He says each scene puts the viewer right into the world with the characters.

“Winter is featured heavily in the season,” he says. “You actually feel cold while watching it. I’ve never experienced a winter like that in Toronto. It was brutal, but worth it.”

Over the course of three seasons, Whittle has been challenged by Shadow Moon’s character because of the complexity.

“The one thing that has remained is that Shadow is broken,” Whittle says. “We find him in Season 1 as a broken man. The tension builds in the second season because of all the questions surrounding where he comes from. The third season, it seems like he’s taking more control over the life he wants to live. He’s resilient and inspiring. It’s been a joy for me to play him and having him be a part of my life while we’re on set.”

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